Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another
~ Proverbs 27:17 ~
Giving a tool the desired sharpness took time in the ancient world, as there were no electric whetstones or other sharpening devices. Persistent, careful striking of the tool against the sharpener was required, and the process lasted longer than a matter of seconds. Thus, the proverb is underscoring the importance of persistence in friendship. One man does not sharpen another with just one speech or dialogue, though words spoken in the right season can go quite far in helping improve another person. Instead, people sharpen one another over time, through years of friendship and all of the ins and outs that come with enduring relationships. A truly constructive friend is faithful over time to offer his criticism and instruction, and he does not give up the first time his friend does not heed his advice.
~ Sharpening One Another – Ligioner Ministries ~
Over the years I have attended a variety of men’s fellowship groups within the Christian Faith. Some were quite small while others boast a good following. Some of these groups appeared to have died down and were no longer meeting. It was not until I stepped into a fellowship of those engaged in their own personal journey of recovery from alcoholism, drug use, and even some who were working on overcoming the effects of family dysfunction and addiction. There appeared to be a real difference between the men’s fellowships and the recovery support fellowships I’ve attended.
While both have had their share of newcomers coming and going one thing appeared to stand out. The old timers appeared to recognize how those new to the recovery groups failed to grasp the process associated with the fellowship with others growing and maturing. Sure, the meetings sometimes may host horrific stories of suffering and detailed descriptions of despair. There was nothing to show forth the work going on to those who are still a hunger and thirsting for a solution to their specific struggles and dilemma.
Regarding the men’s fellowship within the Christian community – there typically was no real follow up. A weekly meeting of men getting together and sharing a scripture, coffee, donuts, and prayer. Recovery groups offered follow up, constant appeal for newcomers to get together with a sponsor. Foster a relationship and start working through the steps of the recovery program.
For me, the lack of discipleship within these certain Christian fellowships lacked a program to foster spiritual growth on a person’s spiritual journey in faith. Christians boast that such a lifestyle is a faith based on a relationship with Jesus Christ. A fellowship of believers. Yet many fail to nourish those new to the faith and therefore many no longer attend services or ministry programs. Yet one walks into the fellowship rooms of recovery and there they are nourished by many stories of victory and endurance of faith, power of restoration, and healing. Not just in the rooms themselves, but in connection and fellowship through individual relationship and fellowship of mentoring, discipleship, and sponsoring those still suffering and struggling.
If my life is in chaos, I want to look into myself for the cause and the cure and use a fellowship of others where I am able to safely expose my shortcomings through vulnerability and courage. I seek out a fellowship with a group of others where it is a living and functioning unit where each one of us come and sharpen ourselves in order to find the cure for our sufferings. Not only the fellowship of a weekly group of others engaged in finding solutions to their own sufferings but a connection with another to continue to learn and grow in my faith, spirituality, and journey. I seek to be sharpened just as I hopefully am able to sharpen another.
Such relationships and fellowships is a process and personal journey that consistently reminds me of the struggles we all face in this life. The faith in God as some understand him. And the courage to be vulnerable with one another, to our God, and to ourselves. A vibrant fellowship is what I stand in need of today and each and every day.
TODAY’S PRAYER AND MEDITATION
Heavenly Father, I continue to seek a strong and vibrant fellowship where I am able to connect with others. Share my own struggles and shortcomings as well as being available to shoulder another persons burden and concerns. Through faithful service and fellowship, I continue to grow. My faith and confidence consistently sharpening through the fellowship of other brothers and sisters. I pray that as I find help and support that I also am of service to help those struggling. I pray this in Christ’s name, Amen.